Whether you consider it dark-fantasy or science-fiction there is no denying that the CW Show, Supernatural, has become a force to be reckoned with, and is about to start its fourteenth season this coming October.
We’re taking a look back over the past seasons, ranking our top five episodes, and now it’s the turn of season three. Season three was marred somewhat by the impending Writers Guild of America strike that lasted for three months across 2007 to 2008. Due to not knowing if they would have the writers back in time to finish the season, a number of changes were made to storylines, either truncating them or moving them to season four, and the eleventh episode ‘Mystery Spot’ was touted as a potential season finale if things couldn’t get finished. In the end, the season only ran to sixteen episodes rather than the standard twenty-two, but there was a positive outcome, as Supernatural was renewed for its fourth season early, guaranteeing that the strike would not spell the end for the Winchesters.
Throughout the season we experience Dean Winchester (Jensen Ackles) living out his last year of life, because of the demon deal he made at the end of season two, to excess. Whereas Sam (Jared Padalecki) is determined to prevent his brother being dragged to Hell and has started paying attention to a demon called Ruby (Katie Cassidy) who claims she can help him.
Bad Day at Black Rock
The third episode has the brothers receiving a call that their father’s storage unit has been broken into, but when they get there they discover that it’s a Rabbit’s Foot that’s been stolen. This being Supernatural though, it’s not just going to be an item that provides good luck (which it does), but a cursed item that means the second the owner loses the foot their luck goes rapidly downhill and eventually culminates in their sticky end. There is an amazing sequence after the first owner loses it and you end up holding your breath as he gets closer and closer to his telegraphed end, and when it finally does happen you don’t know whether to laugh or feel sick.
The Rabbit’s Foot ends up with Sam who finds a gold watch, wins them free food for a year at a restaurant chain, and at Dean’s insistence, wins them several thousand dollars on scratchcards. Naturally, he loses the foot when it’s stolen by Bela Talbot (Lauren Cohan), a thief who specialises in occult items. Bela was a character who had great potential, she was smart, she was funny and she had many shades of grey to her that would have been wonderful to explore further. Sadly, due to the strike, her involvement was cut short and now she is thought of mostly as a disliked individual for all the harm she caused, rather than the tragic figure who was made victim because of her own sad circumstances.
A Very Supernatural Christmas
The eighth episode, which was also the mid-season finale, is the only Christmas themed episode of Supernatural so far, and naturally, it takes some of the familiar Christmas motifs and turns them on their head. Much like the folkloric figure Krampus, someone or something is killing people in the lead up to Christmas. The amusement value comes from discovering that the wholesome older suburban couple are Pagan Gods trying to blend into human society and who limit themselves to a few sacrifices each year. I love the scene in which they are attempting to conduct the sacrificial ritual on Sam and Dean and they take offence at Dean’s bad language and remain insufferably pleasant while pulling out one of Sam’s fingernails.
The Pagan Gods aren’t the only focus of this episode though; we also see Sam refusing to celebrate Christmas with Dean because he doesn’t want to believe this could be his brother’s last one. There are also flashbacks to 1991 in which we see a younger Sam find out the truth about how there are monsters in the world and that his father hunts them. The boys are stood up by the father who isn’t there for them on Christmas Day, but Dean, always looking out for his little brother, has gone out and stolen presents for Sammy. In return, Sam gives Dean the present he’d intended to give to his Dad, an amulet. Lovingly known by fans as the Samulet, the item remains important as is brought to the forefront several times throughout Supernatural.
It ends on a bittersweet moment with the two brothers enjoying Christmas, despite the fact that the clock is ticking and Dean has roughly only five months left to live and Sam is no closer to saving him.
Mystery Spot’ is probably one of my all-time favourite episodes of Supernatural, and I can see how it would have been a good finale if the writers’ strike had ended the show and the plan to follow up with a movie had come into effect. Thankfully that didn’t happen and it remained as the eleventh episode of the season.
It sees the return of the Trickster (Richard Speight Jr), trapping Sam in a Groundhog Day style time loop in which he has to endure the death of Dean over and over again. The multitude of deaths range from being shot, electrocuted, being accidentally killed by Sam with an axe, and eating bad tacos. All of it starts in a very comedic fashion, but it wears on Sam when he gets past his one-hundredth Tuesday. Eventually though he manages to work out that the Trickster is responsible and corners him.
The whole thing has been an object lesson in the futility of Sam trying to save Dean, but the Trickster relents and lets Sam wake up on Wednesday morning… at which point Dean gets shot by a mugger. After six months of hunting down the Trickster with Bobby Singer’s (Jim Beaver) help, an unhinged and grief-stricken Sam gets ready to summon the entity, only to do so he needs a gallon of fresh blood. When Sam says he’ll go get some, Bobby offers to sacrifice himself so Sam doesn’t commit such an atrocity. It quickly becomes clear that Sam intends to go through with killing Bobby, at which point he morphs into the Trickster. He’s still been playing Sam all along. Sam begs for his brother back, and the Trickster does relent, but not before pointing out how the two of them will always be each other’s weakness and this endlessly dying for each other will get them nowhere. Eventually, there will come a day where Sam has to live without Dean.
Jus In Bello
After having the Colt stolen by Bela in an earlier episode, the Winchesters track her down to a motel room, only to find they’ve been set up. FBI Agent Victor Henriksen (Charles Malik Whitfield) has been searching for Sam and Dean ever since the season two episode ‘Nightshifter’ and now has them in custody at a local sheriff’s office. Things go downhill fast when the occupants of the office find themselves besieged by a horde of demons. Henriksen has his own beliefs rocked when he has to accept that the brothers are not just murderers but fighters in an unholy war, when they free him from being possessed. He finally understands what they are all up against, letting the Winchesters take charge to help barricade themselves inside.
Ruby shows up, conveniently as she always seems to, and explains that these demons are minions of Lilith, a powerful demon gunning for Sam. Dean is surprised to find out that Sam already knew about this, concerned that his brother is relying too much on Ruby, and worries what will happen to Sam once he has died. Without the Colt to save them, Ruby puts forward a ritual which will kill all demons in the area, herself included. The downside is that they would need to sacrifice a virgin. Dean vehemently objects despite Nancy (Aimee Garcia) volunteering.
The boys then go to work, with the help of Henriksen, and manage to deal with the demonic horde, earning the FBI Agent’s respect even more. He thanks them and tells them to leave, saying he’ll tell the feds that they died in an earlier helicopter explosion.
Everything seems to end happy, but then a little blonde girl shows up at the office wanting to see Sam and Dean and she is most upset to find them gone. This is Lilith (Sierra McCormick), and she promptly destroys the building, killing everyone who remained, including Henriksen and Nancy. Being a friend of the Winchesters never seems to end well.
No Rest for the Wicked
There are thirty hours to go to save Dean’s soul from being dragged to hell but Sam’s got nothing, but then Bobby calls and tells them he’s found a way to track down Lilith, the demon that has the contract on Dean’s soul, but who also wants to kill Sam. It’s a last desperate attempt, but this is a Supernatural season finale and last desperate attempts are what we are all about.
Against Dean’s wishes, Sam summons Ruby to ask for her help but she’s not interested in a suicide run, the only way she sees this working is if she helps Sam to tap into his psychic abilities rather than rely on her demon-killing knife. Dean refuses, still not trusting Ruby at all and not wanting his brother to risk sacrificing himself. They need to stop doing that and do things their way, go out fighting. The boys then steal Ruby’s knife from her and leave her in a Devil’s Trap.
Lilith, still the cute but terrifying little blonde girl we saw in ‘Jus in Bello’, is on holiday, and by that we mean she’s living with a family in their home and terrorising them, having already killed the babysitter and the family pet, Freckles. Scary children are… scary. The idea of taking innocence and perverting it in such a way always gives chills, and Sierra McCormick blends the saccharine sweet with murderous rage very well.
The Winchesters seemed to be doing well, they are able to take out Lilith’s minions with the help of Bobby and Ruby, who got out of the trap somehow and decided to show up and save the family, but Lilith is no longer in the little girl. Midnight is fast approaching and with no Lilith to bargain with or kill, Sam tearfully begs Ruby for help, but she says it’s too late, and as the clock starts striking a Hellhound has arrived for Dean. The three of them barricade themselves in a room but then the doublecross is revealed and we find that Lilith has possessed Ruby’s body. She opens the doors and we have to watch, along with Sam, as Dean is ripped apart by the beast from Hell. Lilith then moves on Sam but to her horror discovers that she can’t kill him, somehow he’s immune to her powers and she has to flee before he can stab her.
The season ends with Sam crying and cradling his big brother’s dead body in his arms and the camera then pans in on Dean’s unblinking eye. When it pulls back out we see crisscrossed chains across a dark lightning filled sky and Dean pierced with meat hooks attached to these chains. The last things we hear are his terrified cries for Sam which echo as the screen turns black.
I couldn’t end without making an honourable mention of the thirteenth episode, ‘Ghostfacers’. It seems fitting that the returning psychic investigators Ed Zeddmore (A.J. Buckley) and Harry Spangler (Travis Wester) didn’t quite make the cut for my top five, as their efforts are never quite what they hope for either. First encountering Sam and Dean back in season one, the duo has now assembled a whole team to join them for filming the pilot of their new reality show. There’s a lot of humour and meta-humour in the episode, including mentioning the writers’ strike. You either love them or hate them, but I recommend you giving the Ghostfacers a chance.
And that’s our list. We hope you enjoyed this look back over the shortest season of Supernatural so far. Would your list have been different? Let us know in the comments.